Montres MDM Fabrication SA (Hublot)

Well, this isn't very nice. I show up at a building in Geneva's city center expecting to find the offices of watchmaker Hublot but instead find out that it's just a mail drop. Lots of companies do this in Switzerland. Why? Many do it for tax purposes. Switzerland is divided into cantons (similar to states in the USA) and each canton sets its own tax rates. I tell the woman I mailed a letter here four weeks ago to CEO Carlo Crocco of MDM (Hublot). Would it have been forwarded to Hublot's actual physical offices? "Yes", she answers and then gives me an address in Nyon, a town about 15 miles from here.

I'm currently in Geneva, part of the canton Geneva and Nyon lies in the adjacent canton of Vaud. How come someone from Hublot didn't contact me via email with the different address info?

Nyon is a spiffy little town of maybe 5,000 inhabitants overlooking Lake Geneva. A medieval castle stands guard up on a hill in the old town area. Heading a mile inland from the city center brings me to a 10-story building, which looks to have been built in the 1980's. I see MDM's name listed on an exterior building directory so I know this is the place. It's a mixed-use area with apartment buildings right across the street.

After checking in with the receptionist on the second floor I take a seat in a small waiting area. Before long Brigitte Makhzani, Press & PR Manager, greets me and to my dismay, says they hadn't received my letter of introduction. However, it proves not be a problem thanks to the hospitable and accommodating Makhzani.

About 50 people work here with MDM (Hublot) owning the first four floors of the building (in Switzerland you can own floors in an office building). Employee parking is free and plentiful, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace, there're no recreational facilities, no formal dress code and no cafeteria-though there's a break room with microwave. It's four minutes to the nearest freeway, 15 minutes to Geneva's airport and five minutes to the center of Nyon. Was or is there a Mr. Hublot? Nope, it's the French word for a ship's porthole-which inspired founder and CEO Crocco's first line of watches in 1980.

Asking to see Crocco's office turns out to be an easy request for Makhzani to fulfill. Why? All I have to do is turn around in my chair since the questions are being answered in a small meeting room connected to Crocco's office. His second floor middle office contains one plant (real) and a computer. On one wall hang two posters showing Hublot watches and on another are three black & white photos of India. The view out his window? An unexciting view of the parking lot.